This post is part of the series Disputed Land Chronicles
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A few thousand miles to the west of New Orcland lies a remote market-town outpost situated in the midst of the desolate wasteland of the Disputed Lands. Most likely created decades before the Disputed Lands where charted, it’s primary focus and income is the trade and bartering with scavengers in the area, as well as travelers passing through.
One such traveler should have stayed away from Bartertown, he should have turned around when he had the chance. Bartertown has a way of absorbing those who find it. The town is the most ‘civilized’ heap of people in the Disputed Lands. Offering a vast variety of activities and opportunities for trade and work, Bartertown is a crowded mass of blacksmiths, wheelwrights and merchants touting their wares. Chickens can be traded for grain, grain produced into alcohol and alcohol served with a side of sex. A makeshift directory stands next to the entrance: Paradise Alley, Garden of Pleasure, Blacksmith, Small Animals. Next to the barber is the doctors office and the butcher. Across the street an open auction market, a repair shop, a bar and various trading stands. A brothel neighbors the center of the town – the Thunderdome.
He parked next to the giant structure and killed the engine. The heat causing the exhaust to crack, the fumes mingled with the heat vapors rising off everything. His boots thudded into the dry cracked dirt road. He wasn’t much of a man these days; ragged, half starved and half crazy from the heat and days in the wasteland. He glanced at the brothel, but his eyes found the stadium and lingered longer. It reminded him of home, or at least what he had left behind.
It was hard leaving. There was so much more to do, and things had started to come together. But warpstone is a hell of a drug. It tore his team apart, infecting it from the inside. It was more important that he save his players from it than it was for them to continue to play. That’s why he left – to find the source of this, or at least a way to keep it out of his beloved city and away from his family. Rumor had it that Bartertown was a decent place to find warpstone, so that is where he headed.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“He’s thes ones,” came a whisper from behind a box in the alley between the alley and the stadium. “Brings his.”
Covered in leather and rags that matched the desert, four creatures darted from the alley towards the traveler, using the vehicle as cover to shield their approach and the blowing dirt and wind to hide the scraps of their claws on the parched earth.
Two of them came around the front of the vehicle, one around back and the other landing on top with a crash as its claws dug into the hot metal roof. The one in front came at him fast, leaping into the air to deliver a claw to the face. The claw was caught in mid-air, and for a moment the creature dangled upside down as the traveler looked into its black eyes; then tossed the creature into the side of the car, impaling it on a spike protruding from the door.
Before he could regroup the traveler landed on his back as the vermin cut his legs out from under him. The creature on top of the car jumped down to land on the travelers chest.
“You’s coming wiss uz.” he rasped.
The barkeep from across the street watched these events transpire in silence before going back to his tasks. Welcome to Bartertown he thought to himself with a chuckle.
Continue reading this series:
Disputed Land Chronicles: The Underworld